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The Best Flooring for your Dog

Posted by Rob Banks on

At Word of Mouth Floors, we absolutely adore dogs. Our little furry friends are a gift to mankind and deserve every ounce of love they get. Dogs are always excited about something, and they love to chase stuff. Which is why you need a flooring that can withstand the stress inflicted upon it by dogs.

You see, cats don’t do nearly as much damage to floors while running around. They are light footed and are capable of partially retracting their claws while moving around (some are even declawed). But dogs? No matter how much you trim or clip their nails, they will eventually leave marks on your beautiful floors.

All hardwood will scratch eventually, it’s a matter of “how” rather than “when”. Besides, hardwood isn’t the only type of hard surface flooring. Both vinyl and laminate tend to offer better scratch resistance while also being cheaper. But a good hardwood floor is like an investment you make into your home. Not only is it gorgeous and natural, but it also increases the resale value of your house. In this article, we shall talk about the pros and cons of each hard surface flooring type we currently sell:

  1. Engineered Hardwood
  2. Vinyl 
  3. Laminate

You do have the option of going with tile which is the most expensive and long-lasting flooring type. It is also the most resilient to scratches and dents, on top of being impervious to moisture. However, tile isn’t something that we currently sell. Nevertheless, we shall talk about the various types of tile flooring so you can make an informed purchase decision for yourself at the end of the day. Tile is an excellent choice to add some natural beauty inside your home and give it an exotic look, but has its downsides when compared to hardwood/ laminate. For starters, it’s generally more slippery compared to textured vinyl or laminate flooring which can be an issue for older dogs.

Which Type of Hardwood Flooring Is Ideal For Dogs? (Or Pets In General)


Before answering this question, let’s first consider how dogs damage your flooring. Usually, it’s when they bolt around a corner to greet you at the door or get a bit too excited while playing fetch. Dogs have nails that need regular trimming. But no matter how much you groom your dog’s paws; a bit of nail will remain. And this is the part that they use for traction while running around.

Does this mean you can’t use hardwood flooring if you have dogs in your house? Absolutely not, there are plenty of ways to have dogs and still get away with spotless hardwood flooring that barely has any scratches on it. We recommend engineered hardwood over solid hardwood, because of the lower price and higher moisture resistance. What’s the difference between engineered and “real” hardwood? Don’t worry, we will explain it in the next section. 

For now, what you need to know is that harder floor types perform better against scratches caused by canine paws. So if you do go with hardwood, get something that ranks high on the Janka scale of hardness. Such as hickory or oak. As a general rule, avoid softer woods such as pine, cedar, caramelized bamboo, etc. 

Note: Caramelized bamboo is softer than regular bamboo flooring since it’s put into a carbonization oven to get that darker hue. The carbonization process achieves excellent staining and gives your bamboo floor a richer, deeper look. But at the cost of moisture resistance and hardness (caramelized is around 30% softer than regular). That’s why a lot of pre-finished caramelized bamboo collections come with a layer of aluminum oxide finish on top that improves surface hardness. 

Engineered Hardwood vs Solid Hardwood | Which Is Better For Dogs?

First, let’s explain the difference between the two. Engineered hardwood is a thin layer of real hardwood bonded on top of several plywood layers. Solid hardwood is a homogenous product made from 100% real hardwood all the way through, and it generally comes in narrower planks. Solid hardwood can be sanded down and refinished many more times than engineered hardwood because it uses a thicker layer of real wood.

Because of its composite nature, engineered hardwood costs less and resists moisture much better than solid hardwood. This makes it an excellent choice for folks looking to get that authentic hardwood look without paying top-shelf prices. Engineered hardwood also holds up better against doggy “accidents” that involve an involuntary release of uric acid onto your beautiful flooring. Hey, it isn’t impervious to moisture just like real hardwood. But at least you have a larger window to clean up the mess your pet made before it permanently stains the wood. Remember- vacuums are your best friend when it comes to managing hardwood floors in a house with pets.

In terms of longevity, solid hardwood wins because it can last anywhere from 30 to 100 years depending on the quality of product and how well you maintain it. Engineered hardwood is no slouch either in the longevity department, capable of lasting 20 to 30 years under ideal conditions. Due to the improved longevity and cost of material, solid hardwood often increases the resale value of a house. Solid hardwood is an excellent choice for people who want flooring that feels cozy and authentic. 

If you’re someone who values both good looks and affordable pricing, consider engineered hardwood. Due to its design, it’s less prone to expansion when exposed to moisture. And that makes it a better choice for DIY installation since you can have a floating floor that doesn’t require nails or glue to attach onto the subfloor. 

Maintenance is fairly simple on both engineered and solid hardwood flooring. Simple sweeping and vacuuming will take care of everything from dirt to dog hair. And with wood cleaners you can also do some wet mopping every once in a while. 

The Three Most Cost-Effective Options For Hard Surface Flooring In A Home With Dogs

We understand that our customers value cost-effective flooring. If you can get a product that looks good and performs well against scratches without breaking the bank, it’s a great deal. And at Word of Mouth Floors, we’re all about great deals. From pricing to personalized recommendations, we provide the Canadian flooring buyer with an experience they won’t get at any big-box store. 

And if you’re a dog owner? We’ve got you covered. Like much of BC, we love our furry canine friends. In fact, we have two shop dogs who will be very happy to greet you if you visit us. Our goal is to make the experience of buying a new floor simple and fun. Since we are obsessed with providing the best value for money, we recommend the following three flooring types for dog owners- engineered hardwood, vinyl, and laminate. These 3 hard surface flooring types offer the best bang for your buck, and we stock an extremely wide selection of brands for each type. 

Now, let’s take a deeper look into each type of hard surface flooring. It’s clear that a good dog-proof floor needs to be scratch and moisture resistant. You should also be able to clean it efficiently whenever your dog spills something on the floor, so ease of maintenance and cleaning is a factor. With these points in mind, let’s begin-

1.Engineered Hardwood

If you want the look and feel of authentic hardwood at a cheaper price, this is the best option for you. Engineered hardwood is made by bonding a thin layer of true hardwood on top of several plywood layers. Both real and engineered hardwood can get scuffed up if your dog decides to do a quick burnout to celebrate your return from the grocery store. But at least with engineered hardwood, replacing planks is much cheaper and easier compared to solid hardwood. Many engineered hardwood floors are floating, which means they are installed via click-and-lock systems. With solid hardwood, you have to nail or glue the planks down to the subframe. So if your dog gouges up one plank, removing and replacing it can be quite cumbersome.

Engineered hardwood is also excellent for areas that have a high moisture content. Like the basement, bathroom, kitchen, etc. It doesn’t expand or buckle as easily as solid hardwood when exposed to moisture. Plus it is also a lot better in areas that experience extreme temperature changes. Much like solid hardwood, the price of engineered hardwood can vary depending on its source and quality. 

For dogs, get engineered hardwood flooring with a light hue and strong graining. Light hues are better at hiding scratches and stains caused by dog paws. The same goes for wood grain, a stronger grain means that scratches will blend in with the floor and become harder to see. If you want a slightly antique look that is reminiscent of reclaimed wood, go with distressed hardwood. Compared to normal hardwood, distressed hardwood is way better at hiding scratches and scuffs. Distressed hardwood has a rustic, old-school country vibe that a lot of people love. You can get prefinished distressed hardwood planks or have the necessary procedures done on your existing hardwood floor if you want that look.

2.Vinyl Waterproof Flooring

It’s tough to beat the warmth and coziness of natural hardwood in your living room. Or the look of tile in a bathroom. However, there’s one option that has recently been gaining a lot of popularity among homeowners who value cost-effectiveness and durability. And that’s vinyl, which is basically a type of plastic composite that can mimic the look and feel of hardwood or tile. 

Vinyl typically consists of a polyvinyl chloride core layer with a felt backing and various synthetic filler layers on top. A thin printed layer carries the decorative pattern. Which is then protected by a final wear layer on the top that provides all the scratch resistance. The thickness and type of wear layer determine how good a vinyl floor will be against scratching. You can get vinyl in plank form (luxury vinyl plank) to resemble hardwood, or tile form to mimic materials like ceramic and porcelain. 

Vinyl is renowned for its exceptional scratch resistance and cost-effectiveness, on top of being virtually waterproof. Plus you can get vinyl to look exactly like hardwood or tile. Luxury vinyl planks are easy to install and maintain. And they can even be textured to provide extra grip for older dogs who have trouble moving around on slippery surfaces.

These days, a new type of vinyl flooring has emerged called rigid core vinyl. There are two major types of rigid core vinyl flooring- WPC and SPC. WPC stands for Wood Polymer Composite while SPC stands for Stone Polymer Composite. WPC uses a composite wood core with resin and polymer layers bonded on top of it. SPC uses a core made from stone powder, also bonded with various resins and polymers. Both of these have an underlayment made from foam or cork to improve sound deadening and comfort. 

Compared to run-of-the-mill LVP (luxury vinyl plank), both SPC and WPC are 100% waterproof which makes them great choices for bathrooms or basements. And they carry that same top wear layer which protects them from hard impacts and scratches. Vinyl planks are extremely easy to install and replace.

3.Laminate Flooring

Much like vinyl, laminate flooring is cheap and durable. Like vinyl, it uses digitally embossed decoration layers on top to mimic natural hardwoods and stone tiles. All laminate flooring uses an engineered wood core made of high density fiberboard, which is bonded with various supporting layers made out of resin and polymer.

Laminate flooring is extremely easy to install and maintain, since it requires no glue or nails. Planks of laminate attach together with a simple tongue and groove system that allows for a floating floor. Laminate doesn’t expand or buckle to the same degree as solid hardwood. So it can be installed in areas with higher than average moisture content. Keep in mind though, that while laminate carries the scratch resistance of vinyl it lacks the 100% waterproof nature. 

Unlike solid hardwood, you can’t sand down or refinish laminate flooring if it gets gouged/ scratched. The design you get from the factory is what you’re stuck with. However, you can create patterns and aesthetics with laminate that aren’t possible with solid hardwood. And when a plank does get damaged it’s extremely easy to remove and replace with a fresh one. 

If you want laminate that feels like true hardwood, get a thicker product. Thicker laminate planks can also carry more advanced digital etchings that have 3-dimensional depth. Thicker laminate also improves sound deadening and has better impact resistance. And always go for a higher AC rating if you have dogs in the house.

Abrasion Class Rating (AC)

The durability of laminate wear layers (the protective top layer) is measured by an AC (Abrasion Class) rating that ranges from 1 to 5. With AC1 being the least durable and AC5 being the most durable. For big and highly energetic dogs, we recommend AC4 and AC5 laminate flooring. AC ratings also determine impact, fading, and stain resistance. The potential for noticeable scuffs or dents caused by accidentally dropping tools, pans, etc. on a laminate floor goes down as the AC rating goes up. Dragging a chair without felt pads on an AC5 laminate floor is far less likely to cause scratches than doing the same on an AC1 rated floor.

Tile Flooring- Is It Right For You?

If you have the budget to cover your house in tile flooring, you can rest easy knowing that no matter what your dog does it won’t get scratched. Ever. Unless your dog suddenly grows an opposable thumb and learns how to operate a hammer. On top of that, tile is completely waterproof so you don’t have to worry about your dog spilling stuff or having a toilet accident. 

Tile is also extremely long lasting, and adds tons of resale value to any home. Cleaning tile is very easy, everything from a wet mop to brooms and vacuum cleaners will work. A bare tile floor won’t capture dust or pet hair so it’s good if you have people with allergies in the house. 

You have many different types of tile, with the 3 major ones being ceramic, porcelain, and stone (granite, marble, etc.). Ceramic is the cheapest option, ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. Glazed ceramic is extremely stain resistant, even more so than vinyl. Porcelain is more expensive but also harder and more durable. Then you have truly exotic stuff like marble which adds a “premium” feel to just about any place it’s installed. If you want a tile floor with tons of character and more durability than marble, there’s granite.

But tile flooring isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For starters, it is quite slippery which isn’t good for older dogs or pets with special needs. And while tile is cool to the touch, this can be an issue in colder places. Sure, cool tile is wonderful for your dog’s paws in the summer but it can be quite uncomfortable during the winter. Which means you’ll need carpets, rugs, pet beds, etc. on top of tile flooring for your pets.

What If You Want Real Hardwood? | Tips On How To Maintain Hardwood Floors If You Have Dogs

  1. Your shoes can often cause more damage than the dog’s paws

This is something a lot of people overlook, but make sure to remove your shoes if possible while walking on a hardwood floor. That’s because the base of your shoe traps dirt and rocks. When you walk on the hardwood floor, these foreign objects can drag causing several tiny scratches that add up over time.

  1. Harder is usually better when it comes to real wood

Harder woods resist scratches better than softer woods, it’s simple physics. That’s why hickory, oak, maple, etc. are better choices for homes with dogs compared to cedar or fir. This applies whether you’re using solid hardwood or engineered hardwood.

  1. Go for matte finishes over glossy ones

Just like the screen on your laptop or phone, a glossy floor shows stains much more easily under light. Which is why you should stick to satin or matte finishes if you have pets, especially in well-lit areas.

  1. Bamboo flooring can be both good and bad if you have dog

Regular bamboo is going to be stronger than caramelized bamboo. If you want a bamboo floor but have pets in the house, go with strand bamboo flooring which is around 3 times tougher than vertical or horizontal bamboo flooring. 

  1. Use area rugs and felt pads underneath furniture

No matter how careful you are, furniture is bound to scratch up your hardwood floor eventually. Make sure your chairs and tables have felt pads underneath the feet. If you have a chair with wheels, put an area rug underneath. 

  1. Use mats underneath your dog’s food and water bowl

This one is especially important if the bowls themselves are made out of metal. Hardwood will get scratched when your dog pushes the bowl around. And then there’s the matter of spillage from the bowl which can seep into hardwood and damage it over time. Always use mats underneath dog bowls.

  1. Go with a hardwood colour that matches your dog’s fur coat

If you have a husky or german shepherd, you know what it’s like. You mop up and vacuum the floor clean, only to find a giant patch of fur lying around on the floor just 10 minutes later. Get a floor colour that matches your dog’s fur, this will help hide the constant shedding. 

  1. Always clean up spills as quickly as you can 

Engineered hardwood is more resistant to moisture than solid hardwood, but both will get damaged if exposed to water/ urine for prolonged periods of time. Uric acid eats through the fiber structure of wood and turns it black; this can’t be refinished.

engineered hardwood flooring flooring Laminate looselay vinyl pets SPC Vinyl Flooring WPC Vinyl floor

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